Nurses back Thursday
Home News Tribune Online 09/19/06
By RICK MALWITZ
NEW BRUNSWICK-Members of the nurses union at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital will begin returning to their jobs Thursday, following ratification of a contract Sunday.
"We'll be glad to be getting back to work," said nurse Jeanne Clark, a member of the negotiating team for United Steelworkers Local 4-200, which went on strike Aug. 24.
Though management did not budge from its salary package-giving the union annual 3 percent raises through 2008-it did clarify language in the nurses' health-care package.
"It does give us language we consider very important. We do not consider the adjustments to be minor," said Clark.
Because of obligations to replacement workers, the regular staff will not return until the first shift on Thursday, according to hospital Senior Vice President Dick Schrumpf.
are all very complicated, we did clarify some confusion about the modifications to the plan," said Schrumpf about the negotiations.
Among the changes were the addition of 50 area physicians and three additional hospitals where people covered by the union contract will be able to receive care without cost.
Schrumpf said the quality of care did not decline during the strike, but he said the hospital is eager to have the regular nurses return.
"We have a team of dedicated health-care professionals, nursing leadership and hospital administrators who put together a plan that got us through the strike," said Schrumpf. "They are working to implement a plan to return to normalcy."
According to Clark, there is language in the agreement that prohibits any retribution on the part of the administration or the union.
"The words look very nice," Clark said.. "Obviously there were hard feelings (during the strike). We hope everything is good when we're back."
The contract was approved Sunday by a 769-117 margin.
"Our membership voted not just in their own best interests, but also in the best interests of the hospital and the community," said local union President Jerry Collins. "Our 1,300 nurses will be back where we belong-delivering the highest quality health care to our patients."